Colston Boys School was established by Edward Colston in 1707 in a Tudor mansion known as The Great House, which had occupied the site after the Dissolution of The Monasteries in 1536. In the 13th Century, the site was occupied by a 13th Century Carmelite Friary (built around 1256) known as Whitefriars. The Friary would, at the time, have overlooked the River Frome. The Great House was built by John Young, a local merchant who had acquired the site in 1536. It overlooked the quay and was used by Queen Elizabeth I during her 1574 visit to the city. The site is now occupied by the Colston Hall.

Thomas Chatterton was sent to Colston's School at the age of 8. A school register showing Chatterton's attendance is on display in the Life Gallery.

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